Before Bridges, C.j., Herring, Hinkebein, And King, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herring, J.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: JUNE 6, 1997
TRIAL JUDGE: HONORABLE BARRY W. FORD
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ITAWAMBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: SEXUAL BATTERY OF CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 14 YEARS: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 20 YRS IN THE MDOC & PAY COURT COST IN THE AMOUNT OF $188
¶1. Jim Tom Norman appeals to this Court from his conviction in the Circuit Court of Itawamba County, Mississippi, of sexual battery of a child under the age of fourteen years. Norman challenges his conviction on the grounds that: (1) the State failed to establish the sufficiency of the evidence; and (2) the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We find that these assignments of error are without merit, and therefore, we affirm.
¶2. Jim Tom Norman and PN married in 1982, and subsequently had a child, AN,*fn1 in 1986. Shortly after the marriage, the Normans began experiencing marital problems, and the parties finally divorced in 1989. PN and AN moved to Mobile, Alabama, to live with a family member, and Norman continued to reside in Peppertown, Mississippi. While living in the Mobile area, PN met and cohabited with an individual named Charles Rogers. During this time period, AN accused Mr. Rogers of sexual abuse, a crime to which he pled guilty.
¶3. In 1993, the Normans attempted to reconcile their marriage, and PN returned to Peppertown, Mississippi, along with AN, to live with Norman. However, the attempt at reconciliation was unsuccessful, and PN and AN returned to the Mobile area. Upon returning to Alabama, AN, who was eight years old at the time, informed her mother that her father had sexually abused her. AN claimed that her father abused her on ten or twelve separate occasions while her mother worked at a local Red Lobster restaurant. AN stated that her father would enter the bedroom which she shared with her younger brother and climb up onto the top bunk bed. AN alleged that her father would insert his finger and penis into her and he would "poke [her] boobies." Furthermore, AN asserted that she did not tell anyone immediately about the incidents because her father threatened to kill her, along with her mother and brother.
¶4. After learning of the alleged incidents, PN contacted the local law enforcement authorities and returned to Itawamba County, Mississippi, where Dr. Linda Chidester examined AN for the purpose of evaluating the child for possible sexual abuse. The story told by AN to Dr. Chidester was essentially the same story that AN related at trial. Dr. Chidester observed a scar on AN's fossa navicularis (the vestibule of the vagina) and noted that the hymen, while stretched, was normal for a child of AN's age. The doctor stated that AN's hymen was very patulous, and therefore, a finger or something of a small size could have been inserted without any tearing in the area. On cross-examination, Dr. Chidester acknowledged that she had not examined AN prior to the allegations of sexual abuse by Norman. When questioned about whether AN's injuries could have been caused by the sexual assault committed by Mr. Rogers, the doctor testified that she had not reviewed the previous report and examination. However, Dr. Chidester stated that she understood from AN's mother that the prior physical examination revealed that AN's vaginal area was normal.
¶5. The defendant testified in his own behalf and denied that he had sexually abused AN. Norman stated that he was disabled as a result of undergoing three surgeries on his back and tailbone, and therefore, he was in no physical condition to engage in any sexual activities. Additionally, Norman testified that he could not climb up onto the top bunk of the bed and that the bed would not support a grown man. Contrary to PN's testimony, Norman denied that he engaged in sexual intercourse with her following the three surgeries. He asserted that the allegations of sexual abuse were made for strategic purposes in the child custody dispute between him and PN. The record is silent as to whether the child custody dispute was currently pending before the chancery court.
¶6. Following the trial in the Circuit Court of Itawamba County, the jury found Norman guilty of sexual battery of a child under the age of fourteen years. The trial court sentenced Norman to serve a term of twenty years ...